(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

My dad’s parents lived well up until their last few years and they lived long—both until 92. I didn’t know how lucky I was to have grandparents who were active and independent—even into my late 20s—before old age finally caught up with them. Before that they made annual car trips halfway across the country to visit their relatives while also being able to drive themselves to watch our sporting events or to come stay with us. Granddad didn’t retire for the final (his third) time until he was in his mid-80s.

Although their own family was small—just my dad and our family—they had a large circle of extended family members and old friends who they always made sure to see. Their best times in old age were spent visiting with these people—something I thought was B-O-R-I-N-G. What I didn’t see then was how they got together with those in their circle, even during hard times. They loved to see new babies or talk about good times, but where they shone was visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes and attending funerals.

I have never been one of those people who walks into a nursing home at ease—though it breaks my heart that so many people are living in bodies and minds that are failing them, I am also afraid of approaching and interacting with them—as if somehow it’s all about me and my discomfort and not theirs. This despite the fact my grandparents brought me to visit in a nursing home often in my younger years because one of their (our) relatives lived there much of her long life after an early head injury. Thanks to them I at least understood that old age didn’t always look like the independence Granddad and Grandma maintained—and I witnessed what faithful commitment to loved ones through hard times looked like.

When my grandmother finally ended up in such a place in the final two years of her life, it was hard for me to see her that way in that space. I didn’t have to face my discomfort too often because I lived far away busy raising toddler twins, but in those years while my grandma declined, my father kept up the good visiting example set before him by his parents.

Later as my own mom descended deep into Alzheimer’s, I moved her into memory care. I had to learn to override my discomfort in order to visit her most days, but I did. And when you visit someone in memory care, you visit many other people beside your own loved one. I wouldn’t say I grew relaxed, but I could reach out to the other (mostly) women who I met there—people who I could see as individuals hanging onto who they were by a slim thread and people who needed to know they were not alone in whatever scary lack of understanding their own minds exhibited. Like my grandparents and father before me, I held hands and talked.

Now, four years since my mom has been gone, we are back to visiting my husband’s mother. A fracture of the femur and subsequent hip surgery sent her to a physical rehabilitation center, but it is an inability of her mind to absorb all the instructions that has finally sent her into a skilled nursing center—aka nursing home—to see if she can recover enough to walk back into her home. Once again we are confronting the frightening realities of people whose bodies and/or minds do not work as they should—including hers. But, still, we hold hands and talk.

My grandparents taught me how to do this—I don’t know if they were ever afraid or sad or tired of going when they went to see people, but they just went and visited. That’s what they did. I had no idea how brave they were to do so year after year for so many people and to keep visiting until they visited one last time for the final goodbye.

Visiting someone in a care facility is hard for me but I have to remind myself how much harder it has to be to be a person at the mercy of failing bodily systems away from my home and those whom I love. God bless the workers who care for our loved ones in our absence, but may we never forget how much power there is in spending our own time with those loved ones who long for who and how they once were and how we can give them a connection to the lives they have led outside their confinement.

I used to think my grandparents’ use of the word visiting spelled B-O-R-I-N-G, but now I know it spelled L-O-V-E. Now, that was living well.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Let’s talk about convictions. Just because someone has a conviction different from yours does not mean that person is devious. And just because someone hears evidence in a different way than you do does not mean there is an agenda—personal or larger.

As citizens we are called to serve on juries as individuals and to follow our individual consciences to work for a group decision. There are reasons juries are composed of six or 12 people—individual consciences must work together to agree or to admit that there will be no agreement. Decisions are not based on the court of only, say Trina, or you on a jury—or of public opinion or of family members of either victims or perpetrators. The collective body of jury members is called to listen to the instructions and to follow those instructions based on the facts presented in a trial—and for no single juror to let personal emotions—or those of anyone else—sway how to apply the facts within the parameters of the instructions. You know that’s a tough job if you’ve ever been called to serve—especially if in your heart you believe the accused deserves to rot in Hell.

But your job as a juror isn’t to give a perpetrator what he or she deserves—your job is to make your decisions based on the evidence and to uphold the laws of the People.

I feel badly that a man I believe was a sexual predator walked because I did not think his actions had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. I felt the man was guilty the first time I set eyes on him, but that’s not how our justice system works—and that’s a good thing because I, myself, don’t want to be convicted of a crime based on others’ gut feelings. In a perfect world the facts would have been available so that man would pay for his deeds, but imperfect justice is often served because we live in an imperfect world.

Just as it’s easy to declare judgment on the actions of an accused criminal, it’s also easy to think you can judge the actions of a juror who made a decision you abhor. You really need to consider that this person applied the instructions to the evidence and still came up with a different response than other jurors did—or than you would have in their shoes.

Isn’t it funny that we use the word conviction to describe both the holding of a firm belief and the court action for declaring an individual guilty of a crime and that somehow one conviction can get in the way of the conviction preferred by the majority? And yet that’s exactly part of the whys behind the checks and balances designed into the judicial system—because some decisions are too big for majority rule.

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

All this dog walking we’ve been doing lately is a great way to slow down and really see the neighborhood where we live. When my daughter and I first started walking our little pack of three, her puppy, Patches, garnered much of our attention. Not sure how often I really noticed the surroundings. But now that he’s about to turn five months’ old, we’re all settling into routines. That leaves more time for us to pay attention to more than just the dogs.

We tend to amble around without a pattern, especially to keep the puppy from thinking he knows where we are going. Why should he be any different than we are? Even if we choose to walk the dogs to a specific place in order to complete an errand, we don’t often choose the same path. We set off on an “expotition”—in the words of Winnie the Pooh and friends.

I love living in an older neighborhood laid out in a grid. Every block as well as every house on that block is different. Not only that but properties range from very well kept-up to, well, not kept-up at all. That’s just the potluck of living in a town developed one house or a few at a time, mostly before most people thought about master planning communities. If you know anything about me, you know I think potluck=you take what you get—and that’s most often a good thing.

Each walk we take leads us to discover another house that surprises us in some way—a bold color combination, a unique original style, or a creative response to adding space to a home built before most homeowners expected more than 1,000 square feet to satisfy their needs. People can mock our town as a “hood” all they want, but some real jewels add sparkle to the neighborhoods, either in traditional ways or “would have never thought of that” ways.

Part of why walking around these spaces feels like home to me is because so many of my nearby streets remind me of the small town where I often explored streets on foot and/or wheels or the one where I did so with my cousins when I visited my grandparents. Those were streets where real people lived and where putting on airs and “keeping up with the Joneses” was the stuff of seeing who could get wet laundry out to dry on the line earliest and whose flowers and produce might do best at the county fair. These were not homes where people thought spending money in showy ways was clever, but rather that thrifty living and taking a creative—and wise—approach to making do was how the clever amongst them had survived the Great Depression.

Most people who live in the homes in my town either do not have the means to spend in big ways or still believe in the value of a dollar taught to us by previous generations. We choose to live here in this old school place with its old school values because we want to do so—even if that means putting up with not everything around us being just so.

And during these now-hot days of August, I especially appreciate the opportunity to drink in the kind of growth that comes from my neighbors’ diligent attention to tending their colorful flowers. At the same time, I also notice the kind of growth that comes from ignoring weeds—something that will eventually be handled through encounters with city code enforcement officials.

Potluck—that’s what we get here, without the tightly held parameters of HOA control and without the sameness of master planning. These daily walks of late remind me just how much the ordinary as well as extraordinary that surrounds me and my humble abode satisfies my hunger for beauty. Not every dish is pleasing, but the overwhelming bounty and variety at the table provide just the sustenance I need to fill me up.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Yoga is funny—there you are being all mindful—or at bare minimum focusing on how long you have been in the moment of one particular pose—when something else pops into your mind. Maybe something about moving a certain part of your body brings that thought to surface or maybe it’s just another mystery of how your own mind works.

At the end of Wednesday’s class, I thought I was relaxing into savasana when somehow my mind turned to who I was when I was growing up. Too many heart-chakra opening poses so soon after my recent high school reunion trip must have jogged my brain into thoughts of, well, jogging/running.

And just like that I was mad at running.

Oh, Running, I thought you were The One. My first True Love. I was devoted to you—monogamous. Sure, when I met you, I did so with my teammates at my side. Unlike some of those girls, I never shirked on workouts or pretended I didn’t see the coach’s signal to start. You should have loved them more—with their longer legs and easy breathing—but they would not commit to you as I did.

And when that school year ended, I began taking those baby steps that lead toward what eventually became an obsession. We began to meet almost daily. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night—nor unrelenting winds that ranged from 95-degree furnace blasts to sub-zero chills that froze my eyelashes together—kept me from my appointments with you.

I wanted more from you—I dreamed of glory but what I got was quiet time and peace in the moment and a chance to hear the thoughts in my own head. As the miles passed beneath my feet, I learned to love the process and how not to focus only on results.

But you turned out to be a fickle lover. You broke my heart with a kind of pain I didn’t expect. I knew the pain of working hard and strengthening my body. I knew the pain of keeping moving through all sorts of weather or feeling as if my lungs could not catch air—which was ironically the result of an undetected medical condition that would not be discovered until 13 ½ years after we started together. What I didn’t know was that though my body was designed to keep up with you, it wasn’t necessarily designed well to do so for as many miles as I did without adjustments to how I moved. That pain didn’t exactly make me stop, but it made me understand I couldn’t just all out follow you without possible repercussions. What I did for love was not enough—I had to protect myself by not trusting you with abandon as I first had.

We’ve had that kind of on-again, off-again relationship that friends will warn you about. I don’t expect so much from you anymore. I set boundaries for myself and—mostly—live with them. Though I still have the speed to try to catch you, I’m not ready to push myself just to have another piece of me break again. I see you more as an old friend these days than as the focus of my passion. And that’s mostly OK. That we can still meet is almost good enough—except for during those rare moments when my heart remembers that I thought we could have so much more together.

Maybe if I keep working, one pose at a time, I’ll find the peace that brings me to accept that however many miles you and I get to share, those miles belong to a good-sized portion of the best days of my life—past, present, and future. May all that practice help me to open up to releasing what was in order to make space for whatever is yet to come.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Took the long way home last weekend. I, for one, think of the place where I grew to adulthood as my hometown and that’s exactly where I was headed—for a 35th year high school reunion.

But I think memories from our early childhood days really are our homes—especially those from the years from which only fuzzy images and other sensory traces remain. The smells of burning leaves, the crunch of the snow under our boots, the vivid colors from tulips that came out in time for last day teacher thank-you gifts, the flashes of electricity that danced across the walls on hot summer evenings, and all the other tactile encounters, pictures, smells, sounds, and tastes that were first part of informing us what the world was.

Whenever I leave behind the city and its suburbs (and now exurbs) and travel east toward what used to be home, I feel an almost primeval relief as the sky opens up. On the way to that hometown get-together, I met with friends to visit another friend at her ranch. As we drove those roads less traveled, that feeling of relief increased as I journeyed deeper into memories I cannot even access but the sensations were oh-so-familiar.

When you grow up in the middle of nowhere, you spend a lot of time driving—either to another spot in the middle of nowhere or to somewhere where you can buy goods you can’t buy at home or where you can do activities not available where you live. Unless weather kept us from the roads, my family and I were often busy going from here to there, more often than not riding roads that were not graded but instead followed the natural contours, my stomach dropping as we swooped from each hilltop to valley and back again.

I got to experience that feeling again once my friend turned her minivan (with us three now city-slickers) onto the one-lane road that stretched north across now-flat, now-rolling terrain. As the car aimed to climb the first hill, I realized the images of hills in my dreams are not some made-up generic picture, but a conglomeration of the hills my family used to drive in my earliest years. The graded and tamed hills of town and city have obscured what I first knew.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

This is what I knew: a land of sky and grass and herds of horses and cattle. A space where hawks sat on fence posts while flocks of birds took to flight and various other types of wildlife moved along the periphery of the bubble of our car. I may have grown up a town girl but in a town nestled in the country and arranged around agriculture, not industry.

Childhood as I knew it ended the summer I turned ten when we moved from what I had considered small town paradise to a close-by but larger town. I could no longer ride my bike to the pool or roam the countryside alone for hours or walk either downtown or to the shopping mall where my father now worked. The nearly treeless lawns in our newer neighborhood made me ache for the established leafy maple trees that framed the early 20th century house I had called home for most of my memories. The paved roads stretched flat in every direction—there were no hills to make me wonder if my bike and I could reach the top or gravel roads to ride on school buses while going home to stay with friends who lived in the country. Many of my toys never made it out of the moving boxes. That new town became my hometown at an age when the magic of childhood was waning.

For me—no matter that I experienced all four seasons—childhood in my early town will always be the green, green days of summer when the hours stretched with nothing better to do but splash in the cool wetness provided by the hose or explore the almost cold creek (“crick”) or sit behind our Kool-Aid stand (for which customers??!!) with its sugary sweet smells or pedal that banana-seat Schwinn out onto the not often stationary gravel.

And yet it didn’t have to be summer for me to read—which I did with a passion. Town kid that I was, I devoured every horse book—fiction and nonfiction—I could find in the little local library or that I could con my mom into ordering from the colorful newsprint paperback book orders the teacher dropped onto my desk every month or so. Sure I read of racing horses and London town horses but I preferred tales of horses that roamed in hills that looked more similar to those around my town.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

So it came to pass that this small reunion that I got to experience was much more than a chance to talk and laugh and renew friendships with people whom I have missed for too long. No, “meanwhile back at the ranch,” as we made certain to say frequently, I had a reunion with the child I was—as well as the one I wished I was.

Not only has this summer been green at a level not too often duplicated—and the lands that sit on a sweet spot over the massive Ogallala Aquifer are especially green this year—but I also got to return to hills similar to those in my dreams and to achieve proximity to horses in a manner that had only happened in my dreams.

Urban woman I still am and still want to remain, but, please—no apologies for the early morning sun that streamed into the windows of the room where I lay sleeping. I had a room with a view—of fields gilded with dawn—and of the country girl who is also very much a part of me—even after all these years.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Yesterday I wrote about how my mind has seemed rather blank—that may be true, but my dreams are never lacking for details. Though I’m not sure the specifics matter as to what the dreams mean, I wonder if those detailed dreams keep me tired during my waking hours and get in the way of how well I can turn my waking dreams into reality.

Example of a typical Trina dream:

My yoga teacher is teaching a computer-related course at the Eagles’ club where we have our yoga classes, so instead of sitting on our mats, we are sitting at tables. Of course I bring my laptop, but for some reason my husband decides that he needs to repair my computer right there at the start of class. He has everything out of the machine on both sides—yes, do you know there are soft materials located between the monitor and the outer shell, just as there is inside the section where the motherboard should be. I finally point out to him that maybe this isn’t the right time for working on my computer since I am supposed to be using it. Then I begin trying to stuff the material back in both sides so I can snap everything back together—but, of course it won’t fit. Does this bug my husband? No, is conversing back and forth with my choir director, both of them speaking in English but with a Hogan’s Heroes’ type German accent. And then the man clearly asks my husband, “So do you just program in C or C++ too?”

You can probably see why I woke up at that point. All I wanted to do was learn the lessons being taught, but that was not going to happen with my computer torn apart.

In most dreams I not only see it, hear it, touch it, or feel it, but I can also smell it—whatever it is. The houses I remember have more details than what I could tell you about my own house—I could probably draw out many a floor plan of those dream houses and record the colors in those fictional spaces. I could tell you whether the water body I’m in is a lake, river, or stream and just how cold or warm it feels. The conversations don’t necessarily make sense but the word choice stands out—what do programming languages have to do with fixing the hardware in my laptop anyway?

It’s as if I’ve been gathering details—some trivial and some not—for years and all that data and those pieces of information are stuck in random sections of my brain’s hard drive. Maybe I’m the one who needs to defrag and clean up my disc. Perhaps all this unrelated junk is just slowing down my processing time and keeping my memory from storing what is important.

If we are such stuff as dreams are made on, then I’d rather my dreams not be quite so stuffed with useless details—unless, of course, I can figure out how to write a novel from them before my life is rounded with that final sleep.

I’m so in each moment these days that it feels a little bit unnerving. All those thoughts that usually overrun my head have gone a bit silent. Even with all the divisive news of recent weeks, I have my strong opinions but not so much that I have big words I can follow down the rabbit holes. Don’t know whether to try to stir up my thoughts on my own or to take this fallow period as a time of rest and underground growth.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert


So my moments are often filled with activities such as dog walks—lots of dog walks since our daughter got her puppy about five weeks ago. Of course, if we’re available when she is walking her puppy, we ought to walk our own dogs, right? Walk we do—this street and that street—serpentine if you will to keep that puppy from thinking he’s in charge and knows where we are going. I see raindrops on blooms, flowers gone bold in this oddly wet growing season, new paint colors on houses, as well as nighttime light from porches and the bluish glow coming from large screens inside.

What is different about those walks from when we walked our dogs before is that we no longer walk in partial anonymity. The puppy draws attention to our little group—despite having lived in our neighborhood for decades, we are meeting people old and new as never before. Perhaps the constant human connection and conversations ground me more into the here and now than previously when I so often could escape into my head?

Beyond walking dogs, most days we also visit my husband’s mother as she rehabilitates from a fracture that led to a partial hip replacement. The puppy comes, too—with or without our daughter—since he is one of the few bright spots in the sameness of my mother-in-law’s days where she is a little too in the moment. The little superstar works her into thinking about what’s good about being able to sit still with a puppy at your side. And on his way in and out of the residence, he brings smiles to staff, other residents, and visitors alike. Although he is an amateur at therapy, he is an expert at causing people to pause.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Life is change—whether it’s a daughter finishing college and trying to find her way or a long-lived person encountering a body that no longer does as she bids or a society debating whether or not to keep traditions. Maybe at times of great change what we most need is a pause.

Although my mind is not much used to pausing, perhaps this little break is just what it needs to figure out what comes next. What better than a puppy (and its paws) to make play from a pause button?

Birthday girl and her brother celebrating the Big 2

Birthday girl and her brother celebrating the Big 2

It was a dark and stormy night. Not really—instead it was the end of a hot and sweltering day when I came into the world just before sunset in Kearney, Nebraska. I just barely made it into June.

And most years my birthday feels nothing like the rest of June. Baby, it’s pretty much always hot when my “queen for a day” day comes along.

The story goes that “back in the day” hospitals did not have air conditioning in most rooms. The small town hospital maternity ward where my mother gave birth to me had only one room with a window air conditioner, which was reserved for women recovering from cesarean sections. On that particular June 30th, five women ended up in that room, although only one woman had her baby by C-section. That day’s hot, hot, hot baby boom led the other four women to agree—very willingly—to stay together in tight quarters.

My mom’s friend, doped up from surgery, kept looking at her and slurring, “What’s she doing here?” Took her awhile to figure out that every woman in that room had her own brand new baby girl and no one was there just to visit her.

Ever since that day many of my birthdays have involved water, thanks to typical June 30 weather. That and/or baseball games—first my brother’s and then my son’s games.

Well, I don’t plan to see any baseball tonight, but I’ve already been to deep water exercise this morning—which was somewhat like my own personal pool party, right? Thank goodness for that because my next planned activity is my weekly 6:00 p.m. track practice. Clouds would be really, really nice—if the Big Guy is listening and would like to offer that as a birthday gift, I—and the other women on the track, I’m sure—would be truly grateful.

Birthday girl watching the goldfish swim

Birthday girl watching the goldfish swim

Don’t have big plans for this day/night, but it’s always good to reach another year of this crazy experience we call life and to still be able to do most of the activities I love. Hot days, cold days, rainy days, fair days—may I never forget how blessed I am to get do them all again. So thankful for the people who have been with me on this journey—those who were with me right from the start—many of whom I miss now—and those whom I have met along the way—and those I have yet to get to know.

The future’s still so bright on this sunny June day—going to keep wearing my shades. And, like my mother before me, will search out a little coolness for relief from the heat, when necessary.

Welcome, New-Year-to-Me. Together, we’re going to put the sizzle in these next twelve months. Ssssssssss . . .

Some of the women standing by the limo. (Picture taken for us, 2015)

Some of the women standing by the limo. (Picture taken for us, 2015)

Just when you thought that limousine was full of hot young women, you might have been surprised to see the women from my bible study climb out—or lumber out if we want to be truthful. Keep in mind that I am the youngest in the group—thank goodness my hip is healing because it took quite a bit of effort to shimmy back and forth from the depths of that stretch limo. The more limber folks among us did our best to scoot to the back whenever loading up.

So why would a group of “mature” bible study ladies hire a limo?

I guess because we have no access to a church van and because we wanted to take our road trip together—while avoiding the increasingly hostile traffic in the region.

And what a road trip. These “ladies who did lunch with me” not only offered to go 70 miles (one way) to see my daughter’s senior capstone art show as a group, but also to treat me to the gift of transportation with them for the ride. What a great showing of support for both my daughter and me—have appreciated all their prayers for my family over the years, but this expedition was something else.

Let’s just say that not driving while also not being able to see how our driver was handling that crazy roadway was extremely relaxing. (Perhaps a little bit of a metaphor about control there? Hm.)

No doubt the arrival of our bustling group shattered the illusion of a quiet morning for Max, one of the owners of ARTISAN FRAMING, the custom framing shop where the works are being exhibited. But, ever the professional, he took our presence in stride and continued constructing frames despite the considerable change in noise level. I did the best I could to play gallery host to my daughter’s works, but was relieved when she and her brother arrived together—without a limo driver their journey took a bit longer.

She took over answering questions and I got to bask in the pride I feel knowing that the little girl who always made art out of materials grabbed from our recycling bin grew into an accomplished artist who creates pieces by repurposing common materials.

We left the artist and her brother behind to their own plans so that we really could go do lunch before riding back to our own town. At the Mainline Ale House we not only received excellent service and ate tasty food, but we all also received the anniversary special of two-for-one entrees. What a pleasant surprise to add to our already pleasant experience.

Neither rain nor parking woes nor traffic slowdowns stayed our swift courier from completing his appointed round—we had a ticket to ride and I’m so grateful that everyone cared enough to let my daughter to know that she, also, has a ticket to ride.

The only way that will bring us down is if she doesn’t take that ticket and ride with the gift of art she has worked so hard to nurture—she has a ticket to ride and may she ride it for all it is worth. Limousines, planes, trains, or automobiles—any form of transportation it takes, but she’s got a ticket to ride—and we all do care.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

“Puppy, puppy, puppy”—that’s what my husband Sherman used to say to me when I was waiting for my puppy to get old enough to come home to live with us. I had puppy fever bad. As an adult I had never had a puppy right from its early weeks away from its mama. Not too long after my own mama died in a pretty horrible way, so did my dog. I’d had it with old age and illness. I needed youth to renew me—or at least that’s how it felt.

Now that four years have passed since our puppy came to us, I still know that getting a puppy was what most helped me through the healing days. Yes, taking care of that puppy and raising him was hard and took a lot of energy, but loving him put my focus on growth and rebirth—and fun and joy.

Nothing like being around a puppy for helping you to see that the world is pretty exciting—even if you don’t quite agree with the puppy on what exactly is so exciting. Morning! Breakfast! People! Grass! Sticks!

So here we are with a puppy in our home again, but it isn’t really ours. We’re not up with it in the night or cleaning up most of the messes—unless we offer to be on puppy duty. Yes, our daughter just graduated from college but she’s been waiting over six years to get her own dog. This is no post-graduate whim for her.

To everyone who thinks it’s crazy to get a puppy when you’re looking for that first career job and hoping to move out on your own (again), I just have to say that the healing power of puppies can be worth a lot of the cost (time and money) involved. It’s a big transition to finish school and come home again, but now she has bigger motivation for moving on to what comes next.

The puppy has her keeping a daily schedule and requires her to plan ahead for how she’s going to complete her obligations. She is taking two computer skill-based classes at the community college to round out her abilities and has to figure out how to get that work done on deadline without the puppy eating up our house or doing unsafe things. She borrowed a pen so that we could all work on getting her moved back in—not an easy task when someone’s been living in an apartment for four years—and she could start on her class work. The puppy’s own pen should arrive any day, even if he hasn’t yet demonstrated any affection yet for not being the center of attention.

She is also training him to use a crate and taking him on frequent walks to prepare him for the likely day he becomes an apartment-dweller. She also sees how good it is to be able to work him through his often noisy protests to boundaries now while she doesn’t yet have neighbors that live just a wall away.

The puppy is in his own way training her to develop a routine while filling her heart during these early days when her former social structure has so recently ended. Nothing like the full-out run of the little tyke as he races to see her when she comes home from her evening class.

The first week with a puppy here again has been chaotic but rewarding. He is a quick little learner, especially thanks to our daughter’s commitment to creating consistent boundaries—despite how adorable he is and despite how exhausting every waking (and interrupted sleeping!) minute is. She is in this for the long term—and it shows.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

The puppy, puppy, puppy has come to stay at our house and I think he will likely turn out to be what inspires her to figure out just what comes next in her post-grad journey. She has dog food to buy—and someone who already knows she won’t let him down, even if he’s not going to like her spending less time with him.

For some of us, when life gets hard, we get a puppy—and somehow everything else seems easier.

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